Culinary Central

A Central Otago farmer enjoyed dinner was so effusive in his praise of the meal he’d eaten at a London restaurant that the waiter brought the chef and the restaurant owner out to meet him.

In the ensuing conversation the farmer discovered the chef had trained at Cromwell. The owner added that his only fault was that he’d only work with the best cuts of meat.

Cromwell? Yes, at Otago Polytechnic’s Cromwell Campus  which delivers a variety of courses including turf management, stone masonry, viticulture and hospitality.

The farmer mulled on the conversation with the chef and the importance of ensuring the trainee chefs worked with good cuts of meat so when they graduated and went to work around the world they would use New Zealand beef and lamb.

That mulling eventually led to a dinner at the polytech’s Molyneaux restaurant last night, cooked by trainee chefs and served to the Southern South Island Sheep & Beef Council and guests, two of whom were my farmer and me.

We were served a degustation menu, five little courses of delicious food, beautifully presented and matched with wines.

Italian lamb loin with beetroot pinot jelly, horseradish cream, micro greens and shaved parmesan accompanied by Quartz Reef Methode Traditional.

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Consomme of beef en croute with barley, red pepper and broad been accompanied by Bannockburn Road Pinot Gris – which is produced by Cromwell students.

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Ravioli with ox tail and mushrooms accompanied by a Bendigo Syrah from Aurora Vineyard.

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Herb and macadamia nut crusted rack of lamb with fondant potato, steamed broccolini and braised short rib with a Bannockburn Road Pinot Noir.

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Duo of white and milk chocolate delice with a saffron Anglaise and pistachio tuille accompanied by a 2006 Late Harvest Riesling.

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The chefs are only a third of the way through their training. The meal they served us was a feast for the eyes and the taste buds and left the diners satisfied but not over full.

If they can do so well this early in their training, they will be wonderful ambassadors for our produce when they are in their own kitchens in which ever corner of the world their careers take them.

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